Industrial production on this site, which was originally the Loreto Paper Mill, started in 1759. In the early 19th century, following Mexico’s Independence, the mill was upgraded into a paper factory, the independent country’s first. Following a fire that destroyed much of the factory’s machinery in 1905, it was sold to the Lenz family. The family also purchased the nearby Peña Pobre Paper Factory and fused both operations into the Fábrica de Papel de Loreto y Peña Pobre, which used both installations for paper production.
The Peña Pobre location closed in 1987 due to pressure from environmental groups, with Loreto following in 1991. By 1995, the Loreto factory’s buildings were recognized by UNESCO with an International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) award. Shortly after, the whole site was acquired by Carlos Slim’s Grupo CARSO, which remodeled it into a mixed indoor-outdoor shopping mall.
Slim, formerly “the world’s richest man,” has been Mexico’s richest man for the last couple of decades thanks to the business of Grupo CARSO. Initially a telecommunications company, the organization has expanded to retail and real estate, among other ventures. Slim’s wife, Soumaya Domit, died in 1999 and to commemorate her, he dedicated a museum in her honor, the first Museo Soumaya, in Plaza Loreto.
This museum consisted of a permanent exhibit of Slim’s own art collection (notable for its many Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dalí sculptures) as well as many temporary ones dealing with decorative and fine arts. In 2011, Plaza Carso, the group’s newest development, opened a new Museo Soumaya. Most of the permanent collection is housed there, with the older Museo Soumaya Loreto exhibiting a permanent display of Mexican calendar art.
The museum occupies one of the buildings along the factory’s former central court. The remaining industrial architecture houses businesses such as restaurants, cinemas, and shops. Spaces such as the hallways leading to the toilets still display some of the machinery of the defunct factory.
Know Before You Go
It's open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The nearest public transport station is Doctor Gálvez on Metrobús Line 1 (red).